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K240 logo  CU Amiga Screen Star

Have Gremlin come up with the ultimate space strategy game? Or is it just a load of old rocks? Tony Dillon sticks a goldfish bowl on his head and starts humming some David Bowie.

I K240 f you sat down and spent some time with our exclusive playable demo on the March 94 issue of CU AMIGA, you'll already know what a great game K240 is, you haven't seen the half of it yet! K240, otherwise known as Utopia 2, is a massive game, and one that will keep you playing for months. But what am I doing telling you, to go out and buy it, I haven't even told you what it is yet!

TIGHTEN YOUR BELT
Sector K240 is an uncharted asteroid belt out in deep space, where huge chunks of rock rich in ores move slowly through the cosmos. It's these ores that have attracted you to the belt, where you hope to colonise these mini planetoids, mine them for all they're worth and sell the lot for a whacking great pile of cash. Oh, life can be so carefree sometimes.

Except things are never that easy in real life. What? You weren't naive and egocentric enough to imagine the humans are the only race in the galaxy who would have a use for precious ores? Six completely separate races of alien are also interested in getting their hand in, and as usual, aren't prepared to sit down and discuss territorial rights. Just the simple premise alone leaves you with quite a few tasks to uphold, namely: start and develop a mining colony, explore a massive region of space for asteroids and alien presence and win a war against the alien you eventually discover. It's a lot for one man to do, so you're going to have your work cut out.

You start the game with one asteroid, with only one building on it and a modest amount of cash. The first thing you have to do is get your mining colony up and running. For this you have to ensure you have enough in the way of housing and food for all the colonists who are going to live on your bit of rock, as well as making sure that radiation is kept to a safe level, there is enough power to keep all the buildings running, you have adequate medical and police operations running and, of course, that you have some mines actually collecting the ores. Once you have that out of the way, you can start looking at the rest of space.

K240 Switching to a view of the entire belt, from the outset all you can see is a large grey screen with a black circle and a spinning asteroid in the middle of the circle. When I told you it was uncharted, I wasn't joking. The asteroid on screen is yours, and therefore the only one you know actually exists in the belt. The black circle is as far as your sensors reach, and any asteroids that might drift into that belt will be given a name and displayed. Somewhere out in that inky blackness is an alien, who is trying to do exactly the same thing as you, and all you need to do eventually is locate it.

MORE THAN THE EYE CAN SEE
Combat plays quite a major role in the game, and as a result you're going to spend quite a long time just building weapons and getting them ready for battle. There are various different ways you can attack the opposition, from just firing a few missiles at their asteroid to going in for a full strike with a fleet of heavily armed ships. The sheer volume of aggressive weaponry in this game has to be seen - there are dozens of different ships, from small scout ships which go out and explore empty areas of space and record their findings to huge battlecruisers with tens of gun emplacements and everything in between. But ships take quite a long time to cover the vast tracts of the void, and a well aimed volley of missiles can sometimes do the job so much better.

Again, you have a massive choice of missiles, provided you have the funds and the raw materials to build them. There are everything from small explosives to napalm and nuclear warheads right up to my personal favourite, a vortex missile, which creates a bolt of lightning that wanders around the asteroid for a limited time wiping out everything it touches.

K240 With all this going on, you would expect K240 to be very tricky to actually play. Your assumption couldn't be further from the truth. A small series of icon banks, brought into being with the right mouse button, control everything in the game, and these are laid out in a logical way, and drawn in a way that makes them easily recognisable. In short, you don't really need to read the manual to get a lot from the game, just a little logical thinking. For example, if it seems to you that you need to do some deep bore mining to really get to the good stuff in your asteroid, simply look for the build icon, which resembles a building being built, and then select the deep bore mine. Want to build a ship? Go to the spacecraft icon, and then select 'build'. What could be easier than that? To make life even easier, clicking and holding with the left mouse button on an icon 'extracts' it from the menu bank it's in, and places it out on the main display, making it much easier to find the next time you want to use it.

As I said right at the start, K240 is a huge game. There is a lot you won't get the first times you play it, and thanks to the unexpected events (see panel), the game will be constantly throwing new things at you for months. Play it for an hour, and you might as well kiss goodbye to half the year. A splendid sequel.

CU Amiga, May 1994, p.p.66-67

STAND STILL FOR A MOMENT
In sector K240, things never stop moving. The asteroids you colonise are constantly drifting, and if you buy an Asteroid Scanner, you can track the movements of these huge chunks of stone. Remember, the sector only has a finite amount of room, and these things do take up considerable space so it's quite easy for them to collide. Gravity Nullifiers placed on each asteroid will repel others, keeping them safe, but for complete luxury, you can't beat an asteroid engine, which lets you steer your home to a safer location. Isn't it amazing what they can think of?

DON'T GET EX-SCITEK
A dreadful pun, I know, but a good way to introduce you to the concept of a growing game. When you begin, you have a full inventory of possible buildings and tools with which to create your little world. Thanks to Sci-Tek, a sort of interplanetary Argos, you can increase your range. It costs a fair bit of cash, of course, but if you can afford it you can buy better mines, shields for your buildings, asteroid engines, asteroid trackers and enhanced sensors. Plus a whole selection of gifts for him and her, golf clubs and amusing alarm clocks.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Space is a fairly large thing, and anything can happen. In this game, anything does happen, so just to make life a little harder; occasionally strange phenomenon will occur to completely knacker your game. A solar flare might occur, for example, which increases the radiation hitting your asteroids. Or a comet might come streaking through the sector, smashing craft and asteroids to smithereens. It isn't all bad, though. You might suddenly discover that the asteroid you had mined dry had suddenly shown to have even more ore on a lower stratum, or the federation might supply you with back up ships for no reason at all. You know what to expect...

GREMLIN 35.99
A500
A1500
A500+
A2000
A600
A3000
A1200
A4000
GREMLIN GRAPHICS, ALPHA HOUSE, 22 CARVER STREET, SHEFFIELD. TEL: 0742 753423
 
RELEASE DATE:
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MARCH
STRATEGY
IN HOUSE
MOUSE
3
1
YES
1Mb
 
GRAPHICS
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PLAYABILITY
82%
71%
64%
79%
A brilliant strategy game.
OVERALL: 91%